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August 9, 2005

Life Lessons From Star Wars


kr’s note: I’m aware that sannashine recently did a post on the similarities between Star Wars and Islamic themes, so this post deals more with life lessons that are applicable to everyone regardless of religion.


The eminent sufi master Yoda once said:



Since there is much to learn from the Star Wars movie series, I’ve chosen to explore a few more salient pearls of wisdom in the following post. If anyone has other lessons they’d like to add, please feel free to add them on in the comments section.


In no particular order, these lessons include:




  • Be wary of those who want power. In the movies, Senator Palpatine/Darth Sidius slowly manipulates the Senate to grant him more and more power, claiming that such power is needed in order for the Republic to properly put down the rebellion. He was willing to sacrifice the ideals of the Republic in order to deal with the threat (hmm, isnt that what the “President” is doing right now…). At first, he pretends as if he doesn’t want the power; but as soon as he gets his first sip, he becomes drunk with power and wants more and more. This is why anyone who wants leadership–no matter what level of leadership–should be the last person who actually receives the mantle of leadership.


    Imagine him on your local masjid board… funny yes, but in reality…



  • Sometimes the most unassuming people in your life are the ones who will remain the most loyal. In the movies, R2D2 and C-3PO aren’t robots–yet they’re the most loyal, courageous, and sincere companions to Anakin (while he’s good) and to Luke. No matter the circumstances, no matter the danger, they’re willing to hold it down and not only carry out their roles, but to step up when needed. When one looks at R2D2’s courageous role in the last fight in Return of the Jedi, one will notice how this droid went beyond what was expected of him–nay, perhaps even beyond what was imagined of him–to help out those whom he held dear. Perhaps the irony is that these two droids, due to their not being human lack truly human emotions… yet, it is they who exude the best aspects of human character throughout the movies. Similarly, in our own lives, we’re surrounded by characters who will not remain loyal to us (for a plethora of reasons)… more often than not, it’s the minor figures in our lives–the ones that perhaps we weren’t that close to–that remain the most loyal in the end.



  • Sometimes you have to go away for a while if you wish to truly serve others. In the movies, Luke has to take a Ghazalian exile to develop his jedi powers under the guidance of Yoda. It is because of this self-imposed hermitic solitude that Luke is able to become aware of his deficiencies, hone his skills, and master the skills and talents that he will need once he returns to civilization. Similarly, there is a benefit–nay, even a necessity–for one to periodically remove one’s self from the community, especially in a role of service, in order to further develop and refine one’s skills, knowledge, and talents. This has application to all fields, since too much time spent in service often drains one of mental, psychological, and spiritual energy; it is like a lamp that burns its own oil to light the room for others, but in the process fails to replenish this oil. Thus, solitude has its benefits–yet, the important thing to remember is that just as Luke came “back”, one cannot remain away from serving others forever.



  • Don’t put your faith in one person to be a savior for everyone else. In the movies, Qui-Gon Jinn is totally convinced (and thus convinces his own disciple, Obi-Wan Kenobi) that Anakin is the foretold “chosen one” who will restore order to the force. Because of this, Anakin is groomed from a young age to eventually claim his birthright. The entire jedi order puts its collective faith in him to become the savior that was apparently part of his destiny. In real life as well, there are some people who are marked as the “chosen one”–people who will bring peace and order to their communities or even the world at large. Perhaps this is best seen in sports and how sportswriters and analysts are quick to title every young athlete who has one good game as “the next Michael Jordan” or “the next Joe Montana”, etc. (or like the woefully underachieving Cubs who labelled Corey Patterson as the next Ken Griffey… and now Corey is playing minor league ball… and still batting below .250…) Similarly, people put the same type of hopes into politicians, leaders, scholars, etc.  Anyway, the point here is that while there are a few legitimate savior-figures out there, the reality is that one should not put so much stock into one person and expect greatness; doing so will only give birth to disappointment. Instead, those who have been earmarked as saviors need to be given environments to mature and develop such that they can voluntarily claim their destiny… but do not be shocked if they fail to do so.



    The “savior”

    “You were the chosen one!” … yes, Obi-Wan, I know it hurts



  • For some people, the more they age, the studlier they become. Given modern society’s obsession with age and the mantra that younger is better, the stark reality is that oftentimes, people become better in all aspects (including the outward ones) as they age. Consider the case of Obi-Wan Kenobi; as a young jedi in Episode I, he’s apparently in the prime of his life… but the reality is that he looks like a total chump with that buzz cut and one long braid of hair.



    I bet he got beat up by the other jedi at the Jedi Temple.


    Fast forward to Episodes II and III–now Obi-Wan has matured into middle age and become much older and wiser… but, he’s also become much studlier. The previous person who was basically a school-girl-type wuss has now matured into a total stud who’s much better at maintaing his poise, color coordinating his wardrobe, combing his hair, and keeping an enviable beard. And it doesn’t just end there–by the time Obi-Wan has become an old man, he’s completely come 180 degrees and become the epitome of studliness.

             
    Studs….


  • Never write someone off because of their small stature. If one were to take only a cursory look at Yoda, one would never think that he is a renowned and powerful jedi master. Even in the original movies, we never got to see Yoda fight, and thus could only speculate about Yoda’s combat skills. Episodes II and III taught us otherwise, however, as Yoda demonstrated his combat prowess in addition to his sagely advice. Amongst the thousands of jedi, Yoda was the supreme master, proving that his short stature had no bearing on his intelligence or fighting ability. The Ewoks too, despite their small stature and primitive lifestyle, were unlikely heroes who help Luke save the galaxy.


    I don’t think anyone in their right mind would mess with Yoda.

  • The power of the human conscience is perhaps of the greatest forces in the universe. In Episode IV, Han Solo refuses to take part in the attack on the Death Star as he believes he’s helped out enough already and is more interested in making a quick profit than to help the rebels against the Empire. Before the final attack on the Death Star, Han comes back to rejoin Luke and the others, exemplifying that despite his outward stance that he was only interested in money, he had a moral conscience that he could not resist. His tongue said he wanted no part in the rebel alliance; yet his conscience overpowered this, and he could not help but succumb to what he knew was the right thing to do. Similarly, despite what people may claim or opine, at the end of the day, they have to deal with their conscience. Some of the more stubborn ones may deny this, but as they try to sleep at night, they have to deal with this force… and it is no simple task to overcome it.

  • Finally, the most important life lesson learnt from Star Wars is… don’t mess around with chicks cause chicks are nothing but trouble. When one considers that in Episode III, the impetus for Anakin’s descent into the dark side is his desire to save Padme. Even before the vision in Episode III, starting from Episode II itself, he becomes a total retard whenever he sees her, impressing her with such intelligent statements like, “I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating, and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything’s soft… and smooth.” Are you kidding me? This is the kind of crap that our mighty Anakin (who’s supposed to save the galaxy and master the force) is reduced to because he can’t think straight around this chick? Here was a guy who was pod-racing and flying planes at the age of 8… a total child prodigy. Now look what he becomes reduced to… all cause of this chick. And how stupid does this chick have to be to fall for this idiotic line that even a third grader could’ve written? Oh Anakin, that was such a clever line… you telling me this gives me the illusion that we will happily spend the rest of our lives together. And then, because he has this stupid vision of Padme dying in his dreams, he falls to the dark side, slaughters his jedi brethren (and countless others), and helps the Emperor to enslave the entire galaxy… he does all this… for what? To save this stupid chick? The same chick that thought his pickup line about sand was enough for her to marry him? And of course, the biggest irony is that in the end, he’s the reason she dies anyway, suggesting that they both would’ve been better off without one another.


What are you smiling at Padme?… it’s all your fault that Anakin became Darth Vader…


While the above commentary about Anakin and Padme was quite ridiculous, perhaps even more pathetic is that it happens in real life. Some guy will say a stupid pickup line about sand… and then, bam, dark side. No further commentary needed.


That’s the bottom line guys, if you remember nothing else from this post… at least remember that chicks are nothing but trouble… and will cause you to fall to the dark side. Better off to stay away and follow the jedi tariqah.


 

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30 Comments
  1. Okay, here goes…
    Refutations:
    – Anakin is the chosen one. He was going to bring balance to the force and destroy the Sith. And he did. Watch the ending of Episode VI. Sure, it didn’t happen like they wanted it to. But it happened nonetheless. He totally brought balance. No more demanding power hungry Jedi and no more secretive plotting Sith. Just balance.
    – Obi-Wan as a padawan was awesome. He was probably one of the best padawans ever. He was ready for the trails way before he took them. In no way was he a chump then. He KILLED Darth Maul, man. School girl type wuss? He whomped a dual-saber wielding Sith Lord. That “lesson” is complete garbage. People do get studlier as they grow older but the Obi-Wan analogy doesn’t work well at all.
    – Padme is lame and so is the relationship of her and Anakin. She “lost the will to live.” What a waste of a character. Leia is the ultimate female character, and Han Solo totally disproves your “don’t mess around with chicks cause chicks are nothing but trouble” lesson. The lesson should be about Han Solo vs. Anakin: Be a man and chicks will treat you like one.
    – It’s not Padme’s fault. Obi-Wan said it best “he was deceived by a lie, we all were.” Most of the blame goes to Palpatine, but some theories point to Mace Windu and the Jedi Counsil.
    Recommendations:
    – Add something about Han Solo’s refusal to believe in the force in Episode IV and mithaaq. How he ends up believing in it after all because he ultimately can’t deny it.

  2. ready for the trials*

  3. Love the masjid analogy.

  4. Interesting post, but I’m really giving the eprops for your current reading choice. 

  5. Refutations of the refutations: overall, this post was both a social commentary and somewhat tongue-in-cheek in places… don’t get too focused on the details to lose sight of the main ideas.
    -Anakin is only able to bring about “balance” because of Luke. In a way, one may argue that he brought about balance by fathering Luke, who is able to elicit the last remnants of Anakin from Darth Vader. As for the balance… given that the scripts for Episodes 7-9 do exist… one has to assume that complete balance hasn’t been restored. how can we be sure that the Sith have completely been destroyed? I’d argue that Anakin redeems himself, but doesn’t reclaim his destiny… that role–I speculate–will be carried out by Luke… and remember what Obi-Wan says in Episode VI about there being another… leaving the door open that it is perhaps Leia who will be the final restorer of order to the galaxy. Either way, it’s not Anakin.
    -If you noticed, I said that Obi-Wan LOOKED like a chump, nothing about his skills or prowess as a jedi. We’re agreed that he was a great padawan overall, but I still maintain that he looks pretty chumpish in Episode I and then matures into a stud for Episodes II and later.
    -As for Han, it’s true that he ends up doing the right thing by helping the alliance… but then the question that has to be asked is, “Does he come back for the sake of his friendship to Luke, his desire to help the alliance, or because he thought this would impress Leia?”… because see, if it’s the last one, then Han totally sells out… yes, he ends up becoming a good guy, but was it for the right reason. Furthermore, Han and Leia’s relationship starts off as this twisted love-hate relationship that often is more hate than love… she treats him like a total loser in the beginning and he does the same to her. So the suggestion that if you be a man, chicks will treat you like one is flawed…. I would counter-offer that if one behaves like a true man, a woman will treat him like a man. see my previous posts for the defining characteristics of what makes a female categorized as a “chick” or a “woman”
    -the blame on Padme was tongue-in-cheek… but, you do raise an interesting issue. How come the jedi counsel, with the likes of jedi masters like Yoda, fail to detect a Sith Lord in their midst? These jedi masters are able to detect minor changes of emotion, fear, etc. in people… yet they fail in their roles as guardians of the galaxy, so yes, the blame does go to them as well.
    -i’dve done the han solo one (i had jotted it down in my notes) but i wanted this post to be more of general life lessons, rather than simply relating it only to islam

  6. Teehee… how funny – very very interesting though…  liking this post a lot.. props!

  7. Anonymous permalink

    thats a great book…one of my FAVORITES…
    this new color scheme…i dono how i feel about it….
    nigger-ul-haq

  8. I will always maintain that you can learn life lessons from practically anything… and KR proves my point with Star Wars.

  9. Ghazalian Exile = Bloomington, IL 😛

  10. I read Wayside School is Falling Down when I was a kid as well. I loved that book, very funny and well written.
    I liked this post. I learned that almost no matter what one comes up with in life, there will be people who refute it, and often, as in this case, refute it well, just as you refuted the refutation. I think it shows that given a primary source, there are many interpretations of it and depending on how long one has had one type of interpretation of it and how strongly it fits in to their overall framework of their understanding, they are proportionally more aversed to even considering the other view and thus the birth of refutations as means of “bringing order.”
    Also, I very objectively, calmy, and without bias, must agree with the girl bashing. If Anakin had smiply gone back to his “Des Ki Dharti” and had a nice arranged marriage with a simple girl for rupees 2 lakhs, I think the order would have been restored in 2 episodes instead of 6, well maybe 4 episodes if she’s hijabi…
    -Mohd

  11. Padme is hot.so is Kamran.

  12. i second saud’s comments.

  13. Anonymous permalink

    Sometimes the most unassuming people in your life are the ones who will remain the most loyal.
    -Oh how true this is. I myself learned, time after time, that this statement comes into play many times in one’s petty life.But many people, after recognizing these unassuming yet loyal people, go back to the same unloyal fellows.
    Truth be told: I once had a dream that I convinced Natalie Portman(Padme) to become muslim and marry me. And, she also verbally denounced her jewish faith and terminated her israeli citizenship. I woke up before things got any hotter.
    Thanks for acting on my suggestion: Im digging the text-color change. UNC forever.

  14. Anonymous permalink

    Pretty interesting.  MashaAllah KR, do you actually make niyyah for Thawaab when you watch movies, hoping to pick up some values to strengthen your Imaan?

  15. Interesting post.  I, like vector786, love the observation on loyal friends.  I was hoping you would explore the similarities between Senator Palpatine and our wise president in more detail.  Regardless, its a wonderful commentary. assalam.

  16. – Anakin is the chosen one. He kills the Emperor.
    – Obi-Wan looks awesome as a Padawan. “I bet he got beat up” comment; completely false.
    – Natalie Portman is too skinny.

  17. Nice post…I need Ghazalian exile…oh how Surgery is killing me! 

  18. i especially like the point about r2d2 and c3po
    great stuff

  19. to kaz: right on man, we’ve had these discussions before, about how some of the most important things we’ve learnt along the way hasnt been from some book or a halaqah… the power of movies/books is not only that one can learn useful things from the experience, but they also clue us in on what kinds of ideas are currently being circulated amongst people. especially after our conversation on sunday night, i think i ought to soon write a post about the educational value of entertainment.
    to alittlefallofrain: this book was one of my favorite books when i was a little kid, i found it while cleaning the basement… as i read it now, it’s still funny, but what i didnt realize then (and i think i see now) is all the subtle points that the author (Louis Sachar) is making about education, human relations, childhood, and other such topics.
    to alti: new color scheme was needed cause the old one was getting played out… i’ll let this hang around for a while and eventually this will get changed too.
    to mohd: haha, i couldnt stop laughing at the “If Anakin had smiply gone back to his “Des Ki Dharti” and had a nice arranged marriage with a simple girl for rupees 2 lakhs, I think the order would have been restored in 2 episodes instead of 6, well maybe 4 episodes if she’s hijabi…” that was priceless… God bless you my man, God bless you indeed.
    to saud/muhi: no comment…
    to shaykh al-masha’ikh mawlana abrar (db): yes, only because that’s the only way i can justify to myself the time spent watching a given movie… even then, the movie has to have potential for imparting something useful, clearly ruling out some of the idiotic movies out there.
    to moeeds: hmm, sounds like an idea for a future post =)… i think ill write on that topic in the near future
    to rooji: would i be sadistic if i were to tell you that ive been waking up at 1 pm everyday for the past week?

  20. fat chicks suck

  21. Anonymous permalink

    hmm..i’v never ever watched any star wars :-….sooooooo props for ur currently reading. ur so cool

  22. Anonymous permalink

    natalie portman…ehhh too jewish for me.

  23. That stuff about chicks leading you to the Dark Side was dead on…

  24. How do you think of this stuff?

  25. I was rooting for Anikan….i felt bad bad for the poor the guy, this what chicks do to u.did you guys know that there is 2 more parts after the whole star war series….yeah well its a book. And there are no plans to make more starwars. anyways it turns out, that LUKE turns to the Darkside, like his father. And Leia becomes a Jedi and comes back and kills him. pretty interesting.

  26. yuck, star wars.

  27. Ha.
    I am not sure, but I think some of my brain neurons died while reading only a portion of this entry.  The last point is funny though, and I was sort of drug into watching the most recent installment in the starwars saga, and all I did was laugh at how stupid, dinky, and crappy the idea and whole plot was.  As well as the miserable acting, I thought I was having a middle school drama class flashback-eww. (this was during the first week before I was able to drop the class)
    Otherwise, starwars just sucks wholesale buttocks.
    salaamalaikumwarahmatullahiwabarakatu.
    …the only thing to fear is Allah, and dinky plotted time wasters.  =D haha, take that all you Jedi Dorks.

  28. Assalamuialikum
    read this post a lil late, but awesomeee post! this is what i was thinking about after i watched the movie, but u knew how to break it all down. mashAllah. yeah palpatine was totally shaitan, whispering things into the ears of a good man at first, Anakin, makin him into a massive, evil killer! just shows us how we cant keep listening to shaitan’s ideas or else we’ll become just . . . like . . . him! Wasalamuilaikum.

  29. sorry for the late props, good post

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